Beavers cut down Green Forest
BENTON -- Green Forest's hopes of a state championship were splintered Friday night with a 42-7 loss to Glen Rose in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state playoffs at Benton Harmony Grove.
Green Forest finished the season 10-3 as the Beavers (11-1) handed the Tigers their first loss since a 21-20 setback to Berryville on Sept. 20.
"We obviously had a great season," Green Forest coach Jay Martin said. "Having 10 wins is a positive. There are not a lot of 10-win teams out there. Our kids stuck with the process and bought into what we were doing. We didn't get wins in non-conference. But we got to conference and won nine straight after that."
And the Tigers did it in impressive fashion, averaging 40 points per game during a seven-game stretch that ended with an undefeated 1-3A Conference crown. Green Forest then recorded a 28-0 shutout playoff win over Riverview in the first round before bouncing Two Rivers from post-season action with a 36-21 win in the second round.
But Glen Rose, last year's Class 3A runner-up, limited the Tigers to 132 total yards and the lowest scoring output of the season. The Beavers jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the opening stanza and held Green Forest's potent offense at bay until Jordyn Mullins hauled in a touchdown pass from Treyton Watson in the fourth quarter after the outcome of the game was already decided.
"They looked a little uncomfortable when we jumped on them early," Glen Rose coach Mark Kehner said. "It looked like it set them back on their heels a little."
The Tigers appeared to be on their heels on defense as well. Three Beavers tallied 276 yards on the ground, led by Carlos Burton with 26 carries for 151 yards and four touchdowns. Austin Kehner added 35 yards on five carries and quarterback Clay Holicer had 90 yards on 11 rushes and completed 8-of-15 passes for 116 yards and two scores.
Glen Rose attacked the middle of the Tiger defense with the squad's second-leading tackler, Hector Lopez, sitting on the bench after sustaining a game-ending injury just four minutes into the game.
"I think that made a huge impact," Martin said. "We gave up stuff early all year. But the kids always adjusted during a game. When you take a senior like Hector out of the game and replace him with a sophomore, who hasn't gotten as many reps, it makes a difference. It was a big blow."
And the Tigers never seemed to adjust to the three-headed monster in the Beaver backfield as Burton, Kehner and Holicer eased through holes created by the offensive line.
"They dominated us up front on both sides of the ball," Martin said. "It was hard to move the ball. We couldn't get our running game established and couldn't get passing game going because we base the pass off play-action."
Glen Rose effectively took away Green Forest's top threats in Anderson, Clayton Watson and Carl Roberts with a smothering defense that was geared to stop the run. Watson, who caught 15 touchdown passes as a senior, was limited to two catches on the artificial turf at Benton Harmony Grove.
"We have been playing as a team since the game against Berryville," Watson said. "Everyone was doing their jobs. This week it didn't seem like we were focused. But these seniors have stayed together since the seventh grade and have been focused on winning a conference championship and winning state. I think the seniors did a great job of leading this team."
Twelve seniors played the final game of their high school careers. Martin will be tested to replace those seniors for next year as the Tigers enter the season as defending conference champions.
"You have classes that are extremely good," Martin said. "Last time we lost this many seniors the guys came back and won a conference title the next year. Some guys are going to have to step in. It's going to be up to them what they want to do with it."
Anderson concluded his career at Green Forest by starting 33 consecutive games and finished his senior campaign without throwing an interception.
"I hope I see that again in my coaching career," Martin said. "But I know I may not. I don't know of a quarterback that has thrown for that many yards and no interceptions."
Martin said the Tigers developed as more than just a football team this year.
"This was a team and that's what they want to be remembered as," he said. "Even more, I think they want to be remembered as a football family."